Floyd used the $2000 he’d earned for winning Daytona to establish
his own Indian dealership in 1948, which became a H-D shop in 1950
after Indian’s corporate fortunes declined.
Don Emde (left) was part of the all-conquering BSA/Triumph factory
squad in 1971 alongside Mike Hailwood, Dick Mann, Gene Romero
and Jim Rice. Emde finished on the podium, in third place.
To celebrate the 100th Anniversary of
Cannonball Baker’s famous record-setting
transcontinental crossing, Don plans to
repeat the ride on a 1914 Indian next year.
That’s Baker himself in the photo above.
in the San Diego area and began selling
BSA and Suzuki. “This worked out great
for me, since I got better trail bikes and
my racing began to take off,” Don relates.
Don began riding TT and scrambles
events on BSAs, Hodakas, Bultacos, and
Suzukis. Some of his first roadrace bikes
were Suzukis. He raced Dick Hammer’s
used factory Suzuki 250cc X6 at his first
club races at Carlsbad and Riverside. In
the dirt track Pro class, he raced an X6 in a
flat track frame on Friday nights at Ascot.
He began racing three of four classes a day
at Willow Springs, sharpening his skills
and building his reputation as a fast guy.
Eventually, Mel Dinesen provided some
tuned Yamaha machines and Don earned
his first AMA podium at Loudon, New
Hampshire. He then won the 250 Grand
Prix at Talladega, besting Gary Nixon and
Cal Rayborn in the process. Impressed by
his success, BSA signed him for the 1971
season and their all-out assault on the Daytona 200, where he took a third place on
the podium behind Dick Mann and Gene
Romero, giving a 1-2-3 sweep to BSA/
Triumph on its three-cylinder 750s. Things
were looking good for the 1972 season
until the British bean-counters dropped a
Don Emde with his dad after winning the ’72
Daytona 200—the only father-son winners.
late bombshell. Three months before Daytona, he was unexpectedly let go from the
team. The Brits scaled back, fielding only
Mann and Romero, cutting loose some
heavyweight riders, including Gary Nixon,
Dave Aldana, Jim Rice, Don Castro, Tom
Rockwood, and Emde. They told Don, he
was “free to make his own arrangements”
with very little time to regroup.
He teamed up again with Mel Dinesen
riding for Team Motorcycle Weekly on
a Yamaha 350. “It was a smaller engine
but it was very light. There were 80 or 90
entrants in that ‘72 race and probably 50
of them were on that 350 Production Class
racer. It was a model TR3, a six-speed,
air-cooled twin and very popular.”
Don remembers being extremely con-
fident on race day and fully expecting to
win. The race would prove to be tough,
as the Yamaha briefly seized on the east
banking. Don was able to break it free,
but had slipped back dozens of places.
Undeterred, he fought his way back
through the field, dueling for many laps
with World Champion Phil Read until
Read had a bad gas stop.